BERLIN, (Reuters) – Germany is investigating several elite policemen and an army officer on suspicion of illegally providing anti-terrorism training to Libyan security forces in their free time, officials said on Friday.
The Sueddeutsche newspaper reported that more than 30 police and army officials had provided training to Libyan officials and received payment of up to 15,000 euros ($23,570) each from a private security firm.
The Interior Ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia said authorities were investigating eight current or former police officers from the northwestern state.
One of the men, a former police officer from Germany’s elite SEK unit, was suspected of having used secret documents by North Rhine-Westphalia police to train Libyan officials in 2005 and 2007, a prosecution spokesman in Duesseldorf said.
Police trade union GdP said the officers’ behaviour, if confirmed, risked damaging the reputation of German police and posed security risks to Germany.
“These are colleagues with the highest training standard worldwide, who are very professional and are being deployed on extremely dangerous missions: in terrorism, in organised crime,” Frank Richter from the GdP told n-tv television.
“If these mission tactics are getting into the wrong hands, that’s a real danger to colleagues in North Rhine-Westphalia, in the entire country but also for colleagues on foreign missions.”
The Sueddeutsche said the police officers came from special units in the cities of Bielefeld, Cologne and Essen.
One army official was also under investigation, a spokesman for the Defence Ministry said on Friday, adding the soldier had been suspended from his duties.
Libya, once shunned by the West, moved to end decades of international isolation in 2003 by accepting civil responsibility for the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing over Scotland which killed 270 people.
Last year, it deepened a rapprochement with the West by sending home, under an accord with the European Union, six foreign medics convicted of infecting Libyan children with HIV. But human rights groups accuse Libya under leader Muammar Gaddafi of brutal police tactics and human rights violations.
Amnesty International said in its 2007 annual report that Libyan law enforcement officers had resorted to “excessive use of force”, killing at least 12 demonstrators while breaking up a protest, and one detainee during a prison disturbance.